US grocer SuperValu Inc today (14 April) recorded an annual loss of US$1.5bn after it was hit by a series of asset impairment charges and the costs of store closures.

For the year ended 26 February, the retailer recorded a US$1.5bn net loss against a $393m net profit in the prior year. The retailer attributed the drop to a $1.74bn goodwill and intangible asset impairment charge, $77m in retail market exit and store closure costs and $51m in severance, labour buy out and other costs.

Excluding the one-off charges, the retailer would have recorded $296m in net earnings, a 24.6% drop on the previous year.

Sales were down to $37.5bn from $40.6bn in the previous year.

During the fourth quarter, net earnings fell to $95m from $97m in the same quarter of the previous year. Sales were down to $6.7bn from $7.2bn in the fourth quarter of 2009. The retailer cited a 5% drop in identical-store sales, store closures and market exits. Retail square footage was down 1.7% at the end of the fourth quarter of 2011 against the same period of 2010.

“In the fourth quarter, our transformation initiatives helped us execute more effective promotions that contributed to stronger than anticipated results,” said CEO and president Craig Herkert. “This provides us a foundation to continue to deliver upon our business transformation plan as we move into fiscal 2012.”

Describing the retailer’s 2012 guidance, Herkert said that the retailer is “aligned” and working toward the “common goal of delivering greater value to our customers”.

The retailer is forecasting earnings per diluted share on a GAAP basis within a range of 41.20 to $1.40.

“We enter fiscal 2012 with momentum, a solid plan and new capabilities to drive our business transformation, invest in price and deliver sequential improvement to ID sales,” he added.